Like the last Inspector Wexford mystery, Death Notes, this new Render novel is less an earnest mystery-story (like early Wexford) than a sly, teasing entertainment--with twists galore, subtly winking salutes to A. Christie, and an improvisatory feel that never slips over into archness or parody. The first section here takes Wexford to China for a pseudo-business-trip vacation; and Rendell (no doubt just back from a tour herself) concentrates on a funny, warts-and-all travelogue as Wexford hooks up with a disgruntled tour-group on his way to Hong Kong via Canton. But odd things do occur, with hints of Orient Express, The Mirror Crack'd, Death on the Nile: a Chinese student drowns; an ancient Chinese woman seems to be following Wexford; there's tension among the English travelers. Then, suddenly, we're back in England--and who should turn up murdered in her posh home but one of Wexford's China-tour acquaintances, Mrs. Adela Knighton, wife of a retired lawyer! And Wexford starts looking up all his fellow-travelers--quizzing them about the Knightons, unearthing an array of secrets, solving those tour-mysteries as well as the murder. Less tight and polished than Death Notes, with a ho-hum fadeout--but a disarming, fairly irresistible blend of mini-puzzles, solid detection, splendid travel writing, and Wexford charm.